Major Arcana VIII: Strength

 

Photo by Mariana Schulze Photography

 

 

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

 

Strength is one of my favorite Major Arcana cards in the Tarot, because it calls for us to anchor in love and embody our truest selves. The Strength card is a reminder that when we know the our power, it cannot be bought, sold, given, or taken away from us. The healing of humanity and the planet is dependent on dismantling and recreating the systems that have taught us that our power lies everywhere but inside of us. True strength requires the risk of arriving at the door of our own heart and recognizing it as the heart of the world. We will see how our lives weave into every life, understanding the greater risk of ignoring the deepening pull of owning who we truly are. We are living in times of great upheaval, calling for us to be fully present in our bodies and connected to our souls, so we can move as gracefully as possible through the changes afoot.  Strength reminds us that transformation is an inside job, and that we are courageous, resilient, and creative enough to do it. We cannot force change, but we can become it. We are seeing old structures fall within and around us, bearing witness to the unearthing of old beliefs, identities, and ways of being that thrive on the “power-over” dynamic that has wounded us all.  When we are grounded in our strength, we move with more ease and confidence through our lives, no matter what outer circumstances are; we understand that there is enough, and that we are abundant beings with immense potential to create and share from the heart. There is a gentleness in this card that brings us back to love and connection. We live in a society that encourages a disconnection from nature, our bodies, our hearts, our needs, our desires, and from each other. In order to learn how to own our power and direct it in ways that are nourishing, uplifting, and life-affirming, we must first understand that we carry in our bones and our energy fields the imprints of a culture that is based on an imbalance of power. We are fully capable of clearing the old to make way for the new, beginning from within. In fact, we were made for these times.

 

We are taught to outsource our power from an early age, grasping outside of our center for a sense of validation, safety, and belonging. Especially as women, we are trained to find our value in how pleasing we can be—whether that means repressing our true expression, desires, and sexuality in order to “keep the peace” or not appear threatening, or whether that means using our power in unhealthy ways, because we have learned that we must do whatever it takes to gain ground and get our needs met. But we do not have to play that game. In fact, we can no longer afford to. The new paradigm, and one I have worked for in my own life, is one of community, collaboration, self-care, slowing down, reconnecting to the body, the earth, emotions, and creative energy.  We are healing thousands of years of patriarchal programming that creates an environment where competitive, dominant, and conquering behavior is the way to finding power. Paradoxically, we are taught to repress ourselves and stay small and quiet. We can see the harmful effects of this paradigm in racism, sexism, rape culture, destruction and pollution of the planet, and unequal distribution of wealth. We are also inundated with media that sells to us that impossible standards of beauty, the message that we have to “do it all” in order to be powerful women; and in order to be powerful women, we have to compete with each other. This is not the energy I engage in, but I will tell you what–or the Strength card will- your heart and creative spirit are unrepeatable, there is enough for us all, and once you have touched your light, it can only grow.

 

True power is understanding that we have a choice to be and express from a place of wholeness, where all facets of ourselves are given space to exist, and where we support each other’s growth. Acting from strength means our yes’s are full on yes’s and our no’s are clear as day. We also must realize that we are a part of a greater whole whose health and well being depends on everyone’s well being, with everyone granted access to the tools and resources they need to thrive. We are not bound to any way of being that is harmful to us, and when we feel rooted and strong enough in ourselves, we realize we have a choice as to what we participate in, becoming more aware of the places where we have given our power away. When we can begin to unravel the ways we are complicit in oppressive systems, we disentangle the whole mess. This is the work of generations, but it will always begin within each one of  us, and we can choose to access our strength in healthy ways right now. Setting fire to any and all remnants of self betrayal. Setting fire to the memories still alive in our bodies of what humans have done to themselves and each other in order to survive. Setting fire to self judgement. Setting fire to self abandonment. True power does not take. True power does not harm. True power does not manipulate to gain. True power burns for what is real. True power burns for the pieces of ourselves still in hiding, in service to healing and love and justice for every being and inner fragment who never had a chance to thrive. True power burns for our softness and our freezing, our confusion and our clarity, our anger and our joy. True power burns for exposing untruths and setting the course for freedom of expression, a right to exist however we are. True power burns for choice. True power burns for nourishment, feeding the flames for what must go, so what is to come alive has room to grow. Anything less than that dissolves here now. May the ashes make a gorgeous bed for new dreams to take root for humanity.

 

Because of the disconnect in our culture, reconnecting with our wildness is a courageous and rebellious act of tuning in to the deepest parts of our beings and loving ourselves through the process. When we reject the pieces of ourselves that are seen as unacceptable by the social norms, we inevitably see those pieces “out there” and point fingers, blame, or seek to control. Reclaiming the pieces of ourselves we have been taught to feel shame for and fear—sadness, grief, anger, needing help—are keys to knowing our wholeness.  Mindfulness and embodiment practices (which can be as simple as walking, journaling, meditation, and movement) are essential for connecting with our primal states of being. Engaging in our imagination and creativity also causes a glorious ruckus in the status quo because it tunes us into the complexity of who we are. Old systems don’t function too well with soulful people expressing themselves fully and supporting each other in their unique magic.

 

Once we have access to our deeper layers, can move through the world in full responsibility and compassion for our feelings, thoughts, perceptions, and actions. This presence with our bodies and emotions fosters clear-seeing and clear-knowing. Being gentle, kind, and loving with ourselves is key to being loving with others; not judging things as good or bad, right or wrong, and instead just being honest, aware, and open to shifting. Our strength is inside of our softness. Our strength is inside our willingness to hold the entirety of who we are, and commit to knowing, accepting, and loving ourselves and each other completely.

 

Outsourcing light only makes it darker, and wings burn too close to the sun you keep outside yourself. Turning to the heat of our own hearth and inner sanctuary, we will remember who we are. To express the light of our hearts, we must continually turn inward and offer love to those pieces still in hiding— allowing them to be however they need to be. Compassion deepens self trust, and is vital as we come into stronger resonance with the magic of our life force. Without devotion to the inner anchor, we remain complicit in the systems and programming that do not honor individual power and expression, even if they appear to. Strength does not seek domination but rather to be expressed with such fullness that it empowers everyone around them to be free to express the fullness of their being. We can practice graceful engagement with the parts of us that are scary, that need tenderness, and that hold the light of our passions.

 

Stay tuned for Strength, Part Two: Practices for Reconnecting with Your Inner Strength, where I will share grounding exercises, creative exercises, and other ways to connect with your body, intuition and imagination in nature.

 

Recommended Reading
Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Soulcraft, Coming Into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche by Bill Plotkin
The Moon and The Virgin: Reflections on the Archetypal Feminine by Nor Hall

Major Arcana II: The High Priestess

The High Priestess from Pagan Otherworlds deck by Uusi Design Studio

 

Gatekeepers, guardians, travelers between realms: unbind the stones from your feet and sing your life into the deepest part of the river. Listen, listen, listen, as Spirit speaks. You are not separate from any of it.
Your beauty moves in all the changing ways, without knowing who you will be on some other side, which is really always just right here, a black-winged moment, and you, inside it. Your will can’t hold transformation the way it wishes it could. You can only let it take you. If you trust nothing else, trust this. You and your beauty, changing, here and in every in-between.

 

 

The High Priestess is a gatekeeper to Mystery, who calls for us to access our intuition and innate wisdom from the depths of our psyche. She is the keeper of ancient knowledge passed down through the ages, who reminds us that surrender is sacred. She sees all as a wise observer, all-knowing yet neutral, a cosmic queen who walks the earth, moving like water between realms. She is visible when she wishes to be, and cloaks herself in the same breath if her intuition calls for it. The High Priestess honors the liminal, the ephemeral, and the empty spaces yet to be filled. She speaks to us of our ever-burning inner flame, kept safe within a temple whose walls hold the records of all that is, was, and will be. She calls us to settle into the unknowing, and let there be space to open into. The High Priestess is an archetype that portrays one aspect of the Divine Feminine, a term that I relate to as the yin essence, the fertile void, the unknown, and the connectivity of all things. Varying expressions of the Divine Feminine blossom and wither from one source of wholeness, as she is a container vast enough for all to exist within her.

 

A powerful way to explore different expressions of feminine energy and the complex layers of yourself is to dive into archetypes, which is why I love tarot and its connection to mythology. Persephone is a goddess I connect with whose myth tells the story of a maiden (Innocent archetype) torn from her life in the sun with Demeter (Great Mother archetype) and taken against her will to the underworld. But Persephone is also the High Priestess, as expressed through the Dark Goddess archetype. Her story through the patriarchal lens emphasizes her victimhood, diminishing her power as a realm traveling goddess of the unconscious, bravely traversing the shadow realms. What isn’t so widely shared is that she chose to stay in the underworld, and brought back gifts to the light when she was ready to share them, reflected in the changing seasons. She honors our countless initiations and threshold crossings, and our own timing through which we move. She reminds us to move at our own pace, to stand sovereign in our own energy, to own our choices and our power completely. Artemis is another goddess whose energy speaks to both the Wild Woman and Dark Goddess archetypes. She is the one of the woods– embodied, emotive, unapologetic, intuitive, creative, brave, and unto herself, belonging to the moon, the earth and the wild things. Exploring these expressions of the feminine connects me to my soul’s yearning to embody the fullness of me, to arrive here and claim my voice as the witch. The wild one. The deeply feeling healer. The empathic and psychic one. The writer. The creator. The shadow dweller. The light worker. Guardian and guide between worlds.

 

 

Ideas for Journaling and Self Exploration

What happens when I full on surrender to the present moment? How does accepting myself where I am allow me to actually begin changing? How do my own internal shifts effect change in the world around me?

What happens when I start to get more into my body? How does it feel to find stillness? How does it feel to move my body from that point of stillness? Note the sensations, emotions, and thoughts present.

Who will I be on the other side of another transformation? What will I have to leave behind?

What happens when I show up in the world with all the shadows and light that I know I am? What do I need on a physical and emotional level in order to feel grounded and safe? How am I meeting my own needs in these ways? How am I honoring my own growth and tending to my needs at this point in the process?

How does staying with myself and loving myself through my entire growing process strengthen me? What does trusting myself feel like physically? Does it feel calm, even if I don’t exactly “like” the information I am getting? How can I get myself to a place of calm in order to intuit from a more observational viewpoint? How does observing and witnessing my own experience help me respond, rather than react?

How can I cope with my own insecurities around being truly seen? In what ways do I choose to be in alignment with my true needs, rather than in resentment because I am not honoring myself or listening to my intuition?

Will I be able to show up in my fullness without the fear of being “too much?” or  “enough?” What does the cultural programming of “enoughness” look like? How does it affect the choices I make? I willing to disappoint others, rock the boat, and be uncomfortable in order to stay true to myself?

Can I identify when a wounded aspect of me is operating and clouding my judgement? What aspects of me still remain as fragments awaiting full acceptance, unconditional love, and forgiveness? Can I acknowledge them, hold them, and release them with deep love so I can more fully occupy my own body and energy? Can I begin to notice when I am grasping outside of myself for validation to quell inner discomfort? In what ways can I validate myself? How does validating my own experience create more grace and ease in my life?

 

 

Affirmations

I belong on this wild, breathing earth. I am capable of holding this great responsibility. I am brave. I am powerful. I call all of my power back to me now. I am safe. I am grounded. I am connected. I am fully resourced and operate from my wholeness. I trust myself fully. I validate my own humanity. I feel my own divinity. I am loving. I am patient, gentle, and honest with myself through the journey, accepting my wholeness as I change. I honor my interconnectedness with all things. I practice responding rather than reacting by slowing down and asking myself what I truly need. I take time to feel what is present for me and I listen. I practice receptivity and openness when my protective pieces urge me to shut down, trusting and loving all facets as sacred. All I need to do is be here, and pay attention to what moves me. I am deprogramming every belief and pattern of energy that does not belong to me, and that is no longer needed. I am allowing myself to receive new information about all the ways of being that reflect my true essence and soul’s purpose.

 

 

 

img_5425

 

I am continually diving into the way these archetypes are reflections of my being, feeling how they hold and nurture each other, how they are part of a greater cycle, and how they cycle through me in my own phases. Below is some more writing that came exploring these faces of the Divine Feminine.

 

 

I went to the water with my heaviness today. This is my secret spot I always go to alone. This water hasn’t flowed here in a very long time. The first water in a drought will conjure up all that has laid dormant, it will run muddy and carry with it tangled branches, and it is not conventionally beautiful or pristine. The first water will bring to your attention all that you wish you didn’t have to see. It will tell you stories you wish you didn’t have to hear. Chasing the light is easier than communing with the shadows. After a little while the clarity comes, the peace comes, if you submerge and surrender for long enough. After a little while you understand that the light doesn’t care to be chased, just respected as an integral piece of the spectrum, a warming ray of what is possible, of who you are at your core. I prayed into the water, washing my hands clean, asking for guidance. She told me to listen, and to trust what I hear. She reminded me that there isn’t a savior beyond our own understanding that we are part of an eternal river’s ebb and flow. There are layers to healing. There is no easy answer or endpoint, just the willingness to pay attention, to feel, and to trust the wisdom of our experience. The more powerful we become, the more we are asked to kneel closer to the earth, and let go, deeper and deeper. The more we allow energy to move through us without resistance, the more we get to experience moments of radiant fullness, connected to our place in the web, strong in our clear presence, humbled by all that is beyond our control. In this state of surrender, we feel empowered to choose our next step. Our hearts will not stop their work of breaking, but we will stop hoping for that anyway. Often the most we can do is honor the water’s wise path, sometimes bone dry, sometimes teeming with life. Listening, trusting, listening, trusting. I trust my body as an extension of the earth, my vision as an extension of her knowing. I trust her cycles and I trust my own. I listen to what calls me further in. I trust presence, the movement that spirals out from stillness. I listen to what I don’t understand. I become the river who always meets the sea.

We are not initiated once, but thousands of times. Many of our leavings and arrivals are barely noticeable, but we notice, and we are changed. We are led, continually, over thresholds we cannot plan for. Divine order changes its tune as we sing along. And the chords we strike, just by being, create cosmic waves. Barely perceptible or earth-shaking, our energetic signatures exist here as an essential part of our collective experience. As we empty the vessel of striving, we make space for what forces desire to come alive through us. It is simply a welcoming. An opening. A walking through. We are merging worlds, grooving gracefully and tumbling foolishly between the accepted and the unacceptable, learning to tone in resonance with Mystery, breaking contracts with which we no longer agree, weaving our stories one revelation and one question at a time. One toe always in the water, inviting the ceremony of entering. The soul is not static. Spirit shifts. Bodies soften and harden with the rivers and tides of time and emotion. The mind is as pliable as it is powerful. We are called to crack open wide, not for ultimate bliss but for ultimate presence, as we leave behind the comfort of knowing and enter the realm of soul that begins at the edge of the woods, at the precipice of comprehension. Transformation asks of us full devotion. It can be terrifying, to let go, yet it is the only thing that ever really happens, awakening in the center of silence. Even stillness changes shapes. But your hands know the heartbeat of everything. You will remember. And it will be beautiful.

 

Major Arcana I: The Magician

img_9698
The Magician from The Enchanted Tarot deck by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber

 

“Everything changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you, when you start imprinting your intent on the universe rather than receiving an imprint from existence.” Barbara Marciniak

 

 

The Magician is the second card in the Major Arcana, arriving on the scene after The Fool embarks on his journey. He is an alchemist, who is all about personal power, imagination, and manifestation. You have probably heard the phrase, “As above, so below,” but, what does that mean? The Magician acknowledges that the outer world is a reflection of the inner world. As a bridge, or conduit, of universal energy, he recognizes that being in balance on all levels is the key to creating experiences that serve the highest good of all. He knows he is not separate from the great expanse of all that exists, ebbing and flowing with the cycles of the earth and the cosmos. The journey with this archetype is about a commitment to knowing ourselves, finding alignment, and creating what we desire within the natural unfolding, by focusing on working with our own life force. The Magician honors our vision and individual expression as a vital piece in our collective evolution.

 

A master of the process of manifestation, The Magician reminds us that things can change and come to fruition when we shift internally, aligning our innermost beliefs with clear intentions, and taking action in a state of trust. Healing deep layers of beliefs around lack of worthiness and capability will be a part of this process. This happens in the body and psyche in a feeling (energetic) state, not a thinking state. Positive thinking alone doesn’t change reality if inner work hasn’t taken place. If you can acknowledge where you have tender spots — such as those aspects of yourself that are fearful, resist receiving love, or have the compulsion to lay blame — you can hold them in gentleness, respect them as parts of yourself that serve as protectors, and set them free with unconditional love and compassion, so fresh energy that is in resonance with the experience you desire can exist.

 

Inner work is alchemy in action—the continual movement and transformation of energy from one form to another. This process is an exploration of where you need to call your power back and focus on your own energy. You will begin to know your wholeness through feeling, loving and integrating all aspects of yourself. Profound shifts can occur very quickly sometimes, but healing takes time, and you will revisit different layers of the same patterns so you can continue to grow, love what is hard to love, and clear stagnant energy to nurture creativity and a deeper sense of aliveness and connection to your own soul.

 

The Magician knows that embodying change comes down to knowing how to interpret and move energy using his own awareness. A little chakra talk — the Magician activates the will at the center of the belly (the solar plexus) to manifest his soul’s visions in this world.  This requires the root and sacral chakras be grounded in order to create from stability and well being — rather than by trying to control outer circumstances to quell inner turmoil. He knows the magic of a loving heart, and his throat chakra is open, trusting, and communicates clearly, claiming space as a creative being and an essential part of the whole. As the crown chakra receives higher wisdom and frequencies, the third eye must be clear and neutral, giving him the ability to see things for what they are, so change can truly happen. The empowered Magician believes imagination is not a frivolity, but a necessity; he takes full responsibility for the energy he brings to any space, and trusts that when he is in alignment, things fall away and into place without forcefulness. Learning and practicing energy management is essential to his self mastery. Understanding his motivation behind why he wants to create something is essential. (Notes: Links below for further exploration on the chakra system, meditation, and the philosophy of magic; Also I use the pronoun “he” for the sake of ease; The Magician represents a masculine expression, but all archetypes are representations that exist beyond gender.)

 

It takes immense courage and devotion to meet the self, in all its facets, and it often takes much more time to create something than we would like it to. It takes focus just as much as surrender. It also requires remembering that you are whole just as you are, and nothing “out there” will fill you up without this knowing. There is also nothing within you that is not deserving of your full love. With heartfelt, mindful presence, you can feel gratitude for that which is here already. 

 

Remember that the Law of Attraction is complex, and is worth understanding at its deeper levels (which get really whitewashed in the “new age” biz.) Sometimes you manifest just what you wanted, but it no longer fits with where you are in life. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes what you manifest doesn’t look like how you thought it would, but if you trust the feeling of it, roll with it. And sometimes you manifest things that you desire, but are neither prepared to contain nor sustain. Going slowly, and respecting your own rhythm and divine timing, will ensure that you manifest in a way that truly nurtures you and sets you free in all the ways you want to feel free.  Avoid getting into shame or thoughts of “something must be wrong with me” when life gets hard, and no amount of inner work seems to be changing the outer experience. The perspective of your higher self reminds you that there is always evolution occurring, often beyond the comprehension of your earthly self. Sometimes the most you can do is nothing. Blaming and shaming yourself for not being “right” or “in alignment” only causes further harm. Allow yourself to have your experience, even when it is challenging. Notice how miracles show up that you could never have expected, as you direct your focus to the now and practice acceptance and non judgment. Let the energy move through self expression. Stay with, and love through. 

 

My favorite way to enter into a state of altered awareness in which I can work with my energy to release and “call in” is through meditation. It could be a moving meditation like walking silently in nature, dancing, qi gong, breath work; getting into a creative zone; receiving bodywork and energy work; doing a sound meditation like drumming or singing; or laying down listening to a guided meditation with visualizations— anything that allows me to be fully with myself and in my own energy. Find what works for you, as that is where true magic happens. The marvelous thing is that you get to adjust your own vibration to create change in the environment. Shifting your perception, and thus your experience, is always possible.

 

Once you feel clear, spacious, and balanced, get still, and allow yourself to feel your desire in your body; expand on this feeling, let it flow through, and let it settle in. Your experience is sculpted from here. In addition to the above practices, I call upon my higher self, and ask my guides and angels to help me clear away anything that is hindering the flow of my life-force across time and space. I ask any pieces of myself that I have given away to come home. I ask that anything less than love and truth be dissolved, and that the clear light of love heal me and all beings. I ask that universal life-force energy move freely through me, anchoring light, so I can be a channel of goodness in the world.

 

Then, I let it all go. It is all a beautiful experiment, and mostly a practice in love and trust. Stay in awe. Stay grounded, neutral, and trust the timing and the process. Go make magic!

 

 

 

Ideas for Journaling and Self Exploration


  • If the core of reality and who you are is formless awareness, and all the stuff of your daily human experience “accessories,” then you can imagine that magic is not unlike redecorating the set of the movie that is your life. Center into your energy. Visualize what is. Clear your energy. Feel into your dreams. Visualize them. Write about what you would like to create in this current act of your life. Write about how you would love to see your life in 2, 5, or 10 years. You can also create imagery through collage, painting, or drawing on a vision board. Have fun with it. Your dreams don’t have to be grand to be meaningful to you and the world. What you are pulled towards means something. What interests you means something. Envision. Explore. Shift. Actualize.

 

  • Example: I believe I am a creature of unbridled joy in every cell of my being. I intend to create joy from the inside out and experience joy wherever I find myself. I will engage in activities that bring me joy. I will move this energy to shift any perceptions, which helps me make changes where I feel a lack of joy in my everyday life. I trust in my capacity for joy. I trust in the divine to support me. I let go of expectations and receive miracles, feeling my way through. I am grateful for the joy that is here now. I follow signs and synchronicity and revel in the joy that brings. I get curious about joy.

 

  • Once you begin to write, draw, or collage your visions, do you notice if any resistance is coming up? What needs identifying, accepting, loving, and releasing so you can shift into a wider field of possibility? Can you notice how the resistance is showing you something important about what you may need to explore more? Do you notice how exploring these sticky places creates space for new visions and ideas to come in? 

 

  • How deeply can you surrender to the natural unfolding of your life, beyond your own expectations? What does it mean to be a co-creator, bridging human and divine will? Write about what destiny means to you.  

 

  • In what ways can you engage with your experience as a piece of living art? What adjustments do you want to make to your moving masterpiece?

 

  • How does engaging in creative pursuits open you to more energy and inspiration to work with? How do you deal with a lack of inspiration, and get those creative juices flowing again? Do you notice how “doing nothing” increases receptivity to inspiration?

 

  • My creative practice is simple: make space, pay attention, and go for it. I get into the moment to quiet the over-thinking mind who wonders whether the expression “is good enough,” or “makes sense,” instead letting what wants to be, just be– what I call releasing our winged things from their cages. Create now, refine later. Even just gently noticing, or scribbling notes, can be like planting seeds that will grow in their own time. Follow inspiration over judgment (you simply cannot get creativity wrong, what a relief!)

 

  • If you are divinity or consciousness experiencing itself through the lens of your particular human embodiment, how will you use this awareness to create a variety of experiences that bring you and the world around you more beauty, joy, truth, freedom for all?

 

 

For further discovery and experiencing

 

Tara Brach Guided Meditations
Anodea Judith, Understanding Your Chakras 
The Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith
The Kybalion, a guide to Hermetic philosophy
The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall
The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy of Personal Transformation by Dennis William Hauck
Bringers of the Dawn, Teachings of the Pleiadians by Barbara Marciniak

 

 

 

“Each time you meet an old emotional pattern with presence, your awakening to truth can deepen. There’s less identification with the self in the story and more ability to rest in the awareness that is witnessing what’s happening. You become more able to abide in compassion, to remember and trust your true home. Rather than cycling repetitively through old conditioning, you are actually spiraling toward freedom.” Tara Brach

 

“As above, so below; as below so above.”  The Kybalion, Principle of Correspondence

Major Arcana XVII: The Star

img_5472
The Star from The Enchanted Tarot deck by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber

 

 

“Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen

 

 

The Major Arcana in the Tarot is a series of 22 cards that follows The Fool’s Journey, or as Joseph Campbell called it, The Hero’s Journey. Each of the cards in The Major Arcana depicts a symbolic expression of the human experience, called an archetype. Engaging with the energy of each archetype helps us connect to soul and be present in our own evolution.

 

The Star is the 17th card in the Major Arcana, coming to us as the soothing light and transcendent energy after a passage of darkness — illumination in a time of far-reaching transformation. The Star pours celestial medicine down upon our tired souls. We drink deeply of her generous offerings, bathed in blessings that purify, cleanse, and soothe — a peaceful salve on our wounds as we kneel by the riverbank, dawn breaking on the horizon after a dark night of the soul. There is a sigh of relief, as we open our eyes and see that nothing is as it once was; we have been transformed and thus the world sparkles a little differently around us.

 

Like a newborn child with ancient memories, our skin is new but we are tender, our inner scars echoing stories of the difficult journey. Wobbly-legged and bright eyed, we are given a chance to begin again, to wake up to the wonder of a new beginning. Our task is to stay open and receptive to the abundant gifts and blessings offered to us now. The Star tells us we have known the groundlessness of profound change– what it means to doubt ourselves, to feel lost in caverns of uncertainty, to not know what it feels like to trust ourselves or others. When we have lost faith in the unfolding of our lives, and wondered what the purpose is in the struggle, the Star reminds us that we have been forged in the fires and are being offered reprieve on the other side. The light has returned.

 

Through these trials we have encountered the divine spark within that remains no matter what has been stripped away. Here we know the truth of our basic goodness, our light, and our beauty; we have touched the essence of who we are, that can never be taken from us. We carry a renewed sense of intuitive awareness, and a sense of calm that tells us all is meaningful. There is a richness in this place, an opportunity to open to a greater sense of connection to our true selves, to each other, an awareness of our integral role in the web that we weave together. The Star brings us into alignment with self-trust, self-esteem, and purpose. It carries a visionary energy that attunes us to otherworldly wisdom, ideas, and creative energy, the kind that pours through us like a fountain of inspiration. The Star encourages us to understand our worth, and to share generously our gifts with others, without fear of how we will be received. We are encouraged to stay open to miracles, and to know our divinity, shining from the innermost vaults of our being; we are empowered to trust in our highest hearts, to have faith in the magic that we are, and in the visions that call us and the collective into deep healing and renewal.

 

Ideas for Journaling and Self Exploration

 

  • Unhealed parts of ourselves will hinder the clarity of our intuition. Our intuition is in its optimal state when we have lovingly called home our wounded fragments and are standing inside our wholeness. Can you explore what your intuition feels like in your body, when you are coming from a place of wholeness? What does it feel like when you are acting from a wound or a fragment? Can you identify your protective pieces? Offer compassion to yourself here, before reacting from here. Can you identify the neutral space of intuitive awareness? Act from here. Note that making snap judgments is not your intuition at play; judging others is a key to where you can go in and work on healing a wound; intuition feels like a calm, and neutral awareness.

 

  • As you continue to heal, and trust yourself more and more, your intuitive abilities will get stronger and more clear. How does self-nurturing and healing bring you into a deeper state of self trust?

 

  • How are you receiving the blessings that are being offered to you? Clearing and reprogramming old beliefs and patterns, held on subconscious, physical, and energetic levels, is important so you can fully show up and receive the beauty of a new beginning. After a time of profound change, it can be difficult to accept the peace, beauty, and love that is being offered. First of all, know that it is a process and one that takes time. Healing is about integration of all aspects of our experience, not banishing any part of it.

 

  • One tool for receptivity is asking your higher self what affirmations or shifts in thinking and feeling would help reframe your experience. (For example: I am safe, I am whole, I am loved, I am powerful, I belong, I am free, I am receptive, I trust myself, I love myself, I am excited for this newness unfolding, I surrender to the flow of life, I gracefully accept the love and blessings being offered, absorbing them graciously and lovingly into every cell of my being, etc.) Write your own affirmations and practice them daily along with committed self-care, as you let the new information settle into your system as fresh beliefs and perceptions. The light you consistently bring in and embody will illuminate and flush out old and unnecessary patterns as you grow and come into your new way of being. Bodywork, breathwork, energy work, rest, creativity, exercise, time in nature, time with friends, time alone, laughter, and tears can all be forms of self-care. Slow down and ask yourself what you need right now, and trust the answer. Ask your guides and angels for healing and support if that resonates with you. Also, reach out for professional help if you need it; healing needs a safe container and there are healers, therapists, and teachers with extensive experience and training who can assist you. Find those who are in integrity, well-trained, and who fit well with you. Cherish yourself as you would a small child, practice compassion and gentleness. Start where you are. We are dancing through new territory all the time, riding the waves. Sometimes it is slow, soft, sometimes it is intense and feral. It is all vital, and it is all ok. Your experience is valid. Take your time.

 

  • How can you commit to a practice of gratitude? What are you grateful for right now? What are you grateful for in the morning? Before bed? Can you be present with your struggles and be grateful for how they break you open, expanding your capacity to receive? How can you stay grateful for the simple things, even throughout the toughest trials? How does celebrating the little moments of love and beauty awaken you to your true self? How does a daily gratitude practice shift your perception of your reality?

 

  • Write about your experience with miracles. What miracles have restored your faith in a higher power, in your higher self, or in some divine orchestration? Or, do you see miracles in a different way? Do you witness the cycles of the earth and your own body as some miraculous and mysterious unfolding? How can you live so as to believe yourself to be a miracle, and every breath another opportunity to create and experience more miracles? How can you appreciate other people as miracles? How can you shift your daily routine or beliefs so as to expect miracles on a daily basis?

 

  • In what ways do you care for your body? Your mind? Your spirit? Your heart? What does a daily commitment to self-care and self-love look like? How do you cherish yourself? How are you devoted to you?

 

  • Have any insights, ideas, or visions been coming to you? Are you noticing synchronicities, messages or patterns that keep showing up? Is there any resistance to trusting the intuitive messages you are receiving? What emotions or pieces of yourself need to be acknowledged, felt, loved, and integrated, so you can be an open channel of light, wisdom, and love? What you notice is important. What you feel is important. What comes up for you matters. Write down anything that comes to you that feels meaningful, without any care as to whether it makes sense. Or dance, sing, paint, cook, make love, make an altar, do free form yoga, garden, etc, to get into the flow. Let the insights, ideas and inspiration come through you, as if you are a vessel of magic (because you are!) See what happens when you let your creative energy move without judgement. See how trusting your intuition sharpens it.  Stay curious and open to beauty and joy. Shine just as you are.

 

 

Recommended Reading

 

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

 

Wholly-Holy-Ways

img_0299
New Moon in Taurus altar made in Belize in the late spring…feels so very fitting here, now, at his New Moon in Capricorn in the early winter; Pictured is the Rider Waite Smith deck, and Goddess Knowledge Cards with art by Susan Seddon Boulet

 

 

 

img_4756
Ixchel from Goddess Knowledge cards, art by Susan Seddon Boulet; Queen of Wands from The Fountain Tarot

 

 

A message from Inanna, The Sphinx, Ix Chel, Justice, and the Queen of Wands

 

You belong in your becoming, you belong in your blooming, you belong in your dying. In the shadows, your clarity of purpose will be visible through light-filled eyes. Open to faith in the materializing and surrender to disintegration. The breaking down breaks you open in service of awareness and integration, obliterating outdated patterns and easing you into equilibrium. Your response to your experience in every moment becomes your life. Stay gentle inside your soft center, with all those pieces that don’t know yet how they will let go, or where they will go when they do. Maybe there is nowhere else to get to that isn’t here already. Maybe grace comes alive in the un-knowing. Remember when your knees buckled and you fell to the earth? That was when you called it in, arms open wide, because there was only one way to go at that point: the way of the miracle. Imagine you are a vessel of spirit, and that magic lives not only in those heavenly moments of wings-widespread, but in the messiness of loss, the reluctance to release, and the moment of freedom, as you offer yourself to the call, following the current that pulls you deeper and deeper in.

What is ripening now, just below your glassy surface, or just below the crackling surface of your beloved Mother Earth, nurturer of creation and conductor of destruction? If you are her wise seed pulsing with potential in the dark of the moon, how potently are you experiencing each sensation? What twinges and aches call your breath to deepen and your pace to slow? How free are the butterflies in your belly, and how warm is the fire in your chest? Are you allowing goosebumps and uncontrollable, inappropriate laughter, dancing, and tears? Are you welcoming stillness, quiet, and dreaming into nothingness? What are you letting yourself feel in the caves of your inner being? If you get quiet enough, can you feel what you have been denying? Can you feel your longing? The Sphinx, Egyptian guardian of Mystery, tells us there is no riddle to be solved that is separate from the self. Let the mind rest, allowing tendrils of emotion and vision to expand in your core, which is the core of the earth, and the roots that grow through your feet are the ancient roots. Let it die, let it grow. Decay enriches the soil of dreams.

You will be revealed here in beauty. Inanna, Sumerian goddess, tells you that each garment stripped in your descent into darkness has shown you the glimmering, groaning underbelly-self, whose tenderness expresses itself in all-the-ways, the-fearful-ways, the-angry-ways, the-beauty-torn-weeping-ways, the-love-worn-wise-ways, the-essential-ways. Ix Chel, Mayan deity, moon goddess of becoming, honors all phases as vital. She is the jaguar who sees past nightfall, sleek, piercing, knowing and silent until it is time. She is medicine woman, midwife, creatrix, and weaver. And the Queen of Wands comes again, another passionate, creative, confident, feline one, free and bursting forth with the radiant sun. They call for you to celebrate the return of the light, earth tilting just so, moon reflecting sun, each integral piece welcomed home. Thank your ancestors’ wisdom, all that has brought you here. Thank your shadows and receive your gifts from the depths. Thank your not-knowings. Thank your certainty. Thank your cycles. Set down what cannot be carried past this point. You will not abandon yourself or your beloveds, but you will respect your capacity, and bring only what is needed for the next leg of the journey.

As the scales find stillpoint, true inner power is understood and fully claimed. Drink the sweet, dark moonsugar. Feel the shifting structure of memory. Pyramids and treasure, star roots, scars, new skin, and the light of hope that blooms from blood and fear. Lightbeam eyes and puddle-jumping hearts. Communion across time and space. Past life convergence and relentless miracles. What can’t be explained. What mustn’t be repeated. Origins. Healing. Transience. Connection. Belonging. Longing. Need. Desire. Loving you. Loving me. Loving this fucking insane, suffering world, shadows lit up. Filling, emptying. Staying close to feeling. Admitting it. Accepting it. Breathing. Loving what can’t be unfelt or unseen. Somehow. Finding your way. Illumination is not for the faint of heart. But remember this: you are creating the pathway forward, dreaming in the brave-and-true, wholly-holy-ways, holding your humanness, holes and all.

Major Arcana XV: The Devil

IMG_8902
The Devil from The Enchanted Tarot deck by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber

 

 

“Freedom means the power to act by soul guidance, not by the compulsions of desires and habits. Obeying the ego leads to bondage; obeying the soul brings liberation.” Paramahansa Yogananda

 

 

In my journey with the Tarot, I feel that The Devil speaks to us about liberation & connecting in to our personal power. My first instinct lately, when I look at the classic Rider Waite version of this card, is to ignore the chains and flames depicted, and focus on the aspect of this card that symbolizes the intoxication of moonlit attraction, playing in the garden of earthly delights, taking pleasure in indulging the intensity of carnal desire…but the shadow side of these physical attachments is becoming shackled to the unquenchable desires we search to satisfy in other people’s wells, in toxic substances, unhealthy relationship dynamics, obsessive thinking & worrying, or the numbing of pain & fear with any kind of escapism, just pick your poison, there’s plenty to choose from. There is also the element of this card that represents people who blatantly abuse their power at the expense of others as a means of control or manipulation. We seek freedom & transcendence but become entangled, confusing temporary escape with liberation. The Devil asks us to reclaim our intrinsic power.

The Devil card depicts The Lovers in bondage, they are standing together, but not in union; there is an imbalance in each individual regarding the in-drawing of the feminine energy and the out-pouring of the masculine; where the Lovers represents empowered union & the sharing of love, The Devil points to an imbalance of power, as in the dynamic of the codependent and the narcissist, where the codependent individual denies his or her own needs to obsessively meet those of a narcissist. The narcissist thus gains their supply of external power, and the codependent individual gains their supply of external power by feeling “needed,” & “valued” by the narcissist, both cut off from their internal well of strength, and essentially their spiritual and emotional freedom…this comparison between the Lovers & the Devil to me reads: Bond vs. Bondage. This aspect of The Devil card can also be exemplified in the psychological manipulation that occurs in religious cults to keep people bound to fear, which ultimately guides them to give their power up entirely & lose any sense of individual identity. When there is a lack of acknowledgment of the inherent connection to source/the all/god/divine/wholeness/the essential self within, there is a perceived separation that fosters the belief that we need to fill ourselves with something, anything, outside of ourselves to satisfy our inherent longing. Longing is the human condition, and it arises from our biological need to belong—to belong to ourselves, and to the collective. Belonging means survival at the most basic level, but there is also the spiritual component–we expand & grow through interpersonal connection. However, when this need for belonging overrides the individual’s own true path, trouble can arise. Vital lessons come to the surface when we are cut off from the “supply” we have come to depend on so we can satisfy some elusive longing. Crisis is usually what it takes to wake us up to our true selves, when we realize that power can only be cultivated from within, & any other method is playing with some destructive forces.

When we are in balance and connected to the essential self, aligned with our true hearts, and replenishing from within rather than grasping outward, we are empowered to bring light to the shackles, so that we may release that which keeps us in patterns of tension and holding. This “holding” is reflected as stagnation in our physical, emotional, & spiritual bodies, affecting the ways we operate in relationship to self & other. “Lucifer” essentially translates to bringer of the light after all, so when we pull The Devil, here lies a rich opportunity to use that light in service of the higher self, or to refuse and thus remain enmeshed with chains of distraction. I believe that this refusal to illuminate the shadow is the undercurrent of all power struggles. When we hold hands with our shadow, we rise into the understanding that this imprisonment is ultimately a matter which can be released with consciousness; it is a balance of relinquising control and acknowledging reality, “what is,” while at the same time taking the reigns of our personal experience. All that festers in the dark pool of denial directs the currents of our lives, creating the urge to blame, to point fingers—a failure to take personal responsibility for what lies within, & a disconnection from the true self.

I love joyfully experiencing the sensual pleasures of being embodied, and this is another aspect of the Devil. Engaging with our sexuality, tuning into our creative energy, self-expression, finding delight in all of our senses, imbibing a little now and then to fuel the fire & dance with the spark, playing around with the energy generated from the tension of temptation…and like anything, it’s all about how we move with that energy—when we use it with with presence, temperance, gratitude, & reverence, it is a healthy & fun human experience, but over indulgence, addiction, and attachment to material items and carnal satisfaction can quickly turn into a rickety carnival ride of flashing lights and hypnotic hits to the system that leave us essentially empty, always needing something more to fill the void. A good question to ask ourselves is, are we seeking immediate gratification or long term fulfillment? How does this action affect our well-being and the well-being of those around us? This engagement with the self simply requires presence with our true needs. I do not wish to tame the innate wildness, nor deny my desire for pleasure, I wanted to be on earth, in a body, and here I am! In fact, I think self judgement is one of the most profound pieces of bondage we seek to be liberated from; and we can see how our own judgment of self is reflected back to us as judgment from others.

Through a fair amount of trial and error (ahhh, ok, maybe more than a fair amount,) I have found what it feels like to anchor into my truth in the moment, to really feel what it is like to trust that I know what I need to do in order to take care of myself in all ways, even when confusion creeps in & I feel groundless. To get to that place of self trust meant breaking free from the bondage of the false belief that my own intuition, mind, body, heart, & soul were not sacred. The Devil calls to us and asks us to take responsibility for our inner life and its outward expression, be honest about our boundaries, wield the sword of discernment; radical self love and self respect require conscious detachment from people, situations, and choices that are draining to our vitality. This is not always process we can do entirely on your own, and sometimes outside help is required, though real & solid help will always be a facilitation of your own personal power, not a replacement with someone else’s beliefs & ideas. Boundaries are freeing; bondage does not serve us to that same end. Honor the way the water has moved through the riverbed, kissed smooth over a thousand years; witness the purpose of this structure, the way it holds the nebulous flow of movement within it.

 

Ideas for Journaling and Self Exploration

 

  • What fear-based beliefs and attachments restrain me from embodying the freedom of the Fool– unfettered, boundless & joyful, within the framework of awareness & integrity?

 

  • What is my relationship to pleasure? Is there guilt around it? Do I want more of it? How can I cultivate joy & pleasure?  What happens when I do not allow myself to experience that which brings me joy & pleasure? How do I feel when I allow myself a fully present and embodied experience of joy & pleasure?

 

  • How does judging myself or others for having needs keep me imprisoned? How honest can I be about my true desires? How can my desire set me free?

 

  • What does power mean to me? What would it look like to “be in my power?” What makes me feel powerful? What makes me feel powerless? How do I connect to my intrinsic power, the inner strength that is not dependent on any external validation or stimulation? 

 

  • How can I set boundaries in a way that is empowering, seeing boundaries as an act of self love? How does a lack of boundaries become disempowering and draining of my life-force?

 

  •  Practice cord cutting ritual or prayer to release fear, blame, resentment & other attachments that drain your precious energy. I call upon Archangel Michael and also the violet flame of transmutation to clear negativity or stagnant, draining vibrations. I ask Archangel Michael to clear away with fierce love anything that is draining my life force or hindering my light, past -present-future, known or unknown, throughout lifetimes, acrosss time and space. I ask that any piece of myself and my power I have given away come home;  I ask that anything less than love be dissolved, and that the clear light of divine love heal me and all involved. Calling your power back with cord cutting & clearing  are incredible tools to use, centered in love & compassion for the highest good of all.

 

  • What happens when I feel I am over-indulging in pleasure seeking activities? What habits and addictions keep me bound? What shifts in feeling, thinking and action need to happen for me to experience the freedom of true self love?

 

  • In what ways have I disconnected from my self? What is happening, either internally or externally, when I disconnect from my body, or heart? How do I reconnect with my body, how do I reconnect to my heart?